Bigfoot - is he real?
By John Stofflet for Evening Magazine
Tuesday, May 4, 2004 -- Do you believe Bigfoot exists? If you do, it might be because of the famous film two Yakima-area men shot in Northern California in 1967.
But now, another Yakima man says he was there and the whole thing was a hoax.
Bob Heironimus says the film that many Bigfoot believers consider proof the creature exists is big-time phony.
"I could have spilled my guts 30 years ago… but I kept it quiet because I promised I would... But I think after 35 years, the truth should come out," he said.
Heironimus says Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin asked him in 1967 to wear a type of gorilla suit for their film and promised to pay him $1,000 after the job was done.
He then traveled to Northern California where he met with Patterson and Gimlin. "I was nervous to heck, of course, of being shot [by a hunter]," he said.
Patterson allegedly asked Heironimus to take the gorilla suit with him and mail the film back to Yakima. According to Heironimus, Patterson and Gimlin stayed behind to make fake Bigfood tracks around the film site.
Roger Patterson's Bigfoot film was instantly in the media spotlight, and he charged audiences to see the movie and companies to use it for commercial purposes. Heironimus says he never got paid for the job.
When author Greg Long of Mill Creek, Wash., heard Bob Heironimus' story, it didn't surprise him. After all, he spent years researching Roger Patterson before writing the book, "The Making of Bigfoot."
"He would cheat people and he would lie, and he would steal. And this is just not one person who told me this, this is dozens of people in Yakima who have told me the same story – that Patterson simply was not an honest man," he said. "He was a con artist who persuaded people to invest in his schemes, he never paid them back, they never got any money out of it."
Long said he uncovered arrest warrants issued for Patterson, alleging the didn't return the very rental camera he used to shoot his Bigfoot film.
In addition to Heironimum' confession, Long also came across Phillip Morris, a North Carolina costume maker who told Long he sold a gorilla suit to Patterson earlier.
Bob Heironimus' mother, Opal, and others reportedly saw the suit when Heironimus returned to Yakima in 1967. Patterson died in 1972 at age 38.
*Second article: Evening Magazine May 5, 2004
Bob Heironimus claims he played Bigfoot in the 1967 movie.
Evening Magazine tried to give his widow, Pat Patterson, who reportedly still makes money selling her late husband's footage, a chance to answer the accusations, but she had "no comments."
So what about the other Yakima man – Bob Gimlin?
His wife, Judi, said he doesn't talk to the media, but Evening Magazine did receive a late fax from Gimlin stating, "I was the only person with Roger Patterson when he filmed the creature. I have always believed what I saw was real and not a man in a suit. My belief has been supported by countless hours of research and scientific studies."
He went on to say he has never profited from the film and said "Greg Long's book is a crudely written fantasy account of Bob Heironimus' attempt to make a few dollars and enjoy his 15 minutes of fame."
Heironimus claims Gimlin told him something quite different when Heironimus said he was going public about the alleged hoax. So who is lying?
Researcher and retired journalist John Green knew Roger Patterson, has studied the film and Bigfoot for decades, and says that's no man in a monkey suit.
"He can't be the man in the suit, because he's in the first place not big enough, not tall enough, in the second place, his arms are too short and his legs too long. It's physically impossible," he said.
Green sent Evening Magazine a long list of what he believes to be inaccuracies in Long's book and holes in Heironimus' story.
He said Heironimus is lying because he "hasn't got a clue in the world about where that movie was made."
Green is angry that author Greg Long focuses so much on film maker Roger Patterson in his book and so little time analyzing Patterson's film.
"He had this strange idea of his own that the film could be proven fake by attacking the character of the person who held the camera," he said. "That he failed to pay some of his bills? That's not untrue. That he failed to return a camera? That's not untrue. That he was a thief and a con man? That's totally ridiculous."
In that faxed statement from Bob Gimlin, he says the book is "an ugly character assassination of a man no longer alive to answer the accusations."
"The Patterson film is really for Bigfoot believers, a religious icon. That's the way I look at it. They worship this film. It is the single-best piece of evidence for Bigfoot," said Long.
Green says when he hired an expert to run a computer analysis of the Patterson film, results showed the creature could not have a human skeleton. That it's much wider and deeper and would have to belong to an unknown primate.
The only other explanation?
According to the study it was a sophisticated special effects machine that couldn't have been made in 1967. Heironimus wouldn't demonstrate "the exaggerated Bigfoot walk" because talks are under way to make his story and Greg Long's book into a TV special, one in which Heironimus' walk would be scientifically compared to the "ape walk" in the film – for which he, of course, wants money.
We at Evening Magazine wondered what it would look like if we tried to make a Bigfoot film of our own, the way Long and Heironimus say Roger Patterson made his. We picked up a gorilla suit and made no modifications to it. We used a 16 mm film camera roughly like Patterson's. The results were amazingly similar.
"Every effort by Hollywood to make a Sasquatch of their own falls short of this movie," said Green, "for the very simple reason the people in the suits don't have the right arms and legs."
We haven't heard the end of this story. Lawsuits and legal action could be coming from both sides in a dispute that could grow bigger than Bigfoot himself.
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